Safety

People can tell some scary stories about for instance Peru. The same goes for Africa.


No fences
  It almost makes you feel like the minute you'll get off the plane you will instantly be attacked by tropical snakes and spiders, be mugged and raped, will fall into deep ravines, get hit by buses with drunk drivers AND will be robbed of all your belongings, all at the same time.
The scary stories almost kept me from going but I'm so glad I still went! 

Nothing bad at all happened during that entire year in Indonesia, Australia, Chile, Bolivia and Peru.

Yes, sometimes we were lied to by hotel owners, sometimes our yogurt was stolen from the hotel fridge, sometimes we were too scared to look out the bus window at  the deep ravines, but in the end we were fine.

Instead we found full moneybelts from other careless travellers on three different occasions!
 

Scary boat, and - as it turned out - very scary guy

Of course developing countries have their own set of safety issues and one should be careful and streetsmart.

But ask yourself this:

1) Who is telling me the horror stories? Is it people who have actually been there, or are the stories about some cousin's neighbour's friend's aunt's co-worker? Lots of stories get blown out of proportion. Also a story about a shooting in Colombia with tourists involved gets way more attention than a shooting in your home country.

2) How safe is my home country anyway? You can sit safely at home knitting a sweater and watching TV and suddenly an airplane can crash on your house. This really happened in the Netherlands so I use this as an example. There is rape, murder, violence, break-ins everywhere, the chances of getting involved in a road accident are probably higher in Europe than in South America, etc. I'm not saying Peru is safe, but I feel safer in Lima than say, Rotterdam (NL) or any North American big city.
 
Home made food that was delicious
but made me really sick


Not enough seats on the bus?


Of course hamburgers look extra tasty when displayed on pigs' heads

  Here's some tips on how to stay safe.

- Get self defence classes before you leave. It gives you a more secure feeling, which may already help.

- Use tiny padlocks on your zippers, and a thin travel cable lock to attach your backpack to furniture. This should deter the first, opportunist, unprepared thieves.

- Get good travel insurance, mind the amounts that are refunded and the way repatriation in case of emergency is arranged.

- The first day you arrive somewhere, use a taxi to get to your hotel, store all your valuables there safely, and wander around town without any valuables on you, until you feel more at ease.


Millionaires are popular targets... (travellers are walking gold mines in most developing countries)
  - Try to look like you know where you're going and what you're doing, don't let yourself look like an easy target. Try not to consult your city map in the middle of the street, but step inside a shop to study it there.

- Other travellers can also be thieves, mind this when using dormitory rooms and laundry lines.

- Hide valuables: do not put your wallet on the cafe table, do not sling your camera from one shoulder but hide it in a bag until you need it, do not wear any jewelry. When going into town or for a walk, bring only enough cash to get through the day (and some extra for emergencies).

- Be alert, try to stay sober. When something unusual happens (somebody falls, or bumps into you), be aware that it may be a diversion, keep your hand on your bag.

- Use your intuition, listen to your 'other' senses. If a person or a place gives you the creeps (for no explicable reason), go away from it/him/her. Fear is a useful tool. It also works the other way around, usually if you 'feel good' about a certain place or person, it will prove to be a nice place or person. Test your intuition at home, for example try to remember the first impression a new co-worker makes on you, and a few weeks later evaluate if your gut feeling was right.

- Do not transport goods for other people.

- Late at night in a bar, do not leave your drink unattended or it may be drugged.

- Do not give your real passport to 'police officers' in the street. Show them a photocopy, or offer to walk with them to a police station if they don't accept that. Don't get into a car with them.

- Do not be paranoid but enjoy the beauty of the country!


 
A ride with a local truck after our bus broke down for the third time


Toilet and shower at the same time

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